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Whose voice? Who's Film?: Jean Rouch, Oumarou Ganda and Moi, un noir

This chapter from Building Bridges: The Cinema of Jean Rouch (London: Wallflower Press, 2007) has been reproduced with permission from the author, Dr. Steven Ungar and the book's editor, Joram Ten Brink. For more information and/or to order a copy of this collection, please visit Wallflower's online catalog here.

Becoming another?

Can one put the West to flight?  Can one flee oneself?  In Cinema 2: The Time-Image (1985), Gilles Delueze describes the problems faced by the filmmaker in Africa among peoples colonised by those who impose their stories from  elsewhere and appropriate local myths to their own ends.  In answer to this question, Deleuze cites the trance sequences in Jean Rouch's film, Les Maitres fous (1955), in which characters on screen become others by storytelling, while the filmmaker becomes another by fashioning characters drawn from real life.  He conceptualizes this reciprocal interaction as a double-becoming and concludes: 'It may be objected that Jean Rouch can only with difficulty be considered a third world author, but no one has done so much to put the West to flight, to flee himself, to break with a cinema of ethnology and say Moi, un noir [1958]' (1985: 223).

    Some 27 years earlier, Jean-Luc Godard referred to Rouch's film, Moi, un noir (1958), as audacious and humble because it showed a free Frenchman freely setting his free gaze on a free world (1998: 177). [1]  But if - in terms of this composite portrait - Rouch was a free Frenchman (Godard) who tried more than anyone to flee himself (Deleuze), it remains unclear what his freedom and his ability to become another imply concerning those portrayed in his film.  This chapter studies Moi, un noir in conjunction with urban modernity in late colonial Africa and as a prod to Cabascabo (1968), a film by Oumarou Ganda, whom Rouch had recruited to play the lead in his film a decade earlier.  Its emphasis on colonial history and African film goes against the received understanding of critics and historians who consider Moi, un noir almost exclusively in terms of visual style linked to cinéma vérité and the French nouvelle vague.  Rouch in 1958 is indeed a white French male - 'free' in Godard's choice of term - working in apparent good faith to record the daily lives of Africans living under French colonial rule (see Dine 1994: 178). But exactly what image of urban Africa in 1957 does Moi, un noir disclose?  How does its narrative structure bear on its place in the histories of African film and late colonial Africa? My intention here is not to judge Rouch ad hominem on the basis of circumstances that empowered him as a 'free' French male working in a colonial setting.  At the same time, reconsidering Moi, un noir from this perspective provides a means of reassessing Rouch's African films of the 1950s with reference to perceptions of overseas territories occupied by France during the final decade of colonial rule.

One Africa or two?

Moi, un noir is a 70-minute colour film shot in 1957 in the Ivory Coast capital of Abidjan.  The French first occupied the lagoon area of Abidjan in 1842.  Fifty-one years later, it became a colony, soon to be part of French West Africa.  Railway links facilitated transport of natural resources such as wood, cocoa and coffee, for eventual exportation.  In 1958, the Ivory Coast evolved from overseas territory to a republic, to be led from 1960 until 1993 by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny.

    Rouch centers his film on a group of young Africans who come south from Niger to find work in Abidjan.  In line with their efforts to adapt to the 'new' Africa they encounter in the Treichville section of the city, four of the new arrivals adopt nicknames - Edward G. Robinson, Eddie Constantine (in the role of US federal agent, Lemmy Caution), Tarzan and Dorothy Lamour - inspired by actors and characters of feature films made in the US and France. Global mass culture thus furnishes identities and stories tailored to 'the new universe of the young Africans moving almost without transition from the griot to Hollywood, from tribal myths to the mythologies of contemporary societies' (Gauthier 2002: 72). [2]

    Modernity in Moi, un noir extends from image to process; that is, from scenes of daily life in Treichville to Rouch's efforts to relocate filmed ethnography from 'folkloric' rural settings to urban spaces. Georges Sadoul links Rouch's long-term involvement with the Songhay people of Niger to the phenomenon of migration towards urban capitals of the 'new' Africa (see 1979: 376).[3]  In such terms, the film is arguably a case study of colonial modernity in which migrant workers involve themselves in new socio-political formations linked to but also between existing Western institutions and their AFrican counterparts (see Wilder 2005: 8-9). Rouch first engaged the phenomenon of migration in two films - Les Maîtres fous and Jaguar (1967) - he undertook in Africa earlier in the decade.  Unlike these two, Moi, un noir is shot almost entirely in urban settings, with pastoral images of Niamey appearing only in flashback towards the end of the film.  In Les Maîtres fous, Rouch had filmed the cult of the hauka (literally 'the new gods') whose retreats and possession rituals he described as a means of compensating for the realities of their daily lives in the 'new' urban Africa.  By contrast, the value attributed to imagination and fantasy in Moi, un noir is ambiguous and not clearly redeeming.

    Of special interest throughout the film is the use of voice-over alternating between description and the cinematic equivalent of a free indirect discourse that seemingly expresses the thoughts of characters on screen. [4] The words spoken by Oumarou Ganda in his role as Edward G. Robinson are especially moving as he fantasises about himself alternately as the world champion boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and husband of the woman who calls herself Dorothy Lamour.  Consistent with the film's emphasis on role playing, the character played by Ganda is never referred to as anything other than Edward G. or Sugar Ray Robinson.  Accordingly, the adoption of a stage or professional name can also assert a self-styled identity that is often at odds with lived origins. (For the record, Edward G. Robinson was the stage name of Emanuel Goldenberg, born in Bucharest, Romania in 1893; Walker Smith Jr changed his name to Sugar Ray Robinson in 1940 when he became a professional boxer.) [5}

    Moi, un noir's opening sequence includes no fewer than 21 shots before any title credits appear.  The first - hardly conventional as an establishing shot - shows a man from behind, sitting on the curb of an urban street, with a truck, houses and pedestrians in the background.  Successive shots follow him as he meets two acquaintances and walks through the streets of Treichville.  Ambient sound enhances this initial vision of urban Africa, with gas-powered motors, automobile horns and background conversations accompanying an extended voice-over from shots 1-14:

  1. Each day, young people ... like the characters of this film arrive in the cities of Africa.  They have left school ... or the family home in order to try to enter the modern world. They know how to do nothing and everything; they are one of the new illnesses of the new African cities ... unemployed youth.  This youth caught between tradition and the machine world, between Islam and alcohol, has not renounced its religious beliefs but devotes itself to the modern idols of boxing and cinema.  For six months, I followed a small group ... of young immigrants from Niger living in Treichville, a section of Abidjan.  I proposed to make a movie about them in which they would play their own roles, in which they would be able to say and do everything.  This is how we improvised this film.  One of them, Eddie Constantine, was so faithful to his character, US federal agent Lemmie Caution, that he was sentenced to three months in prison while we were still shooting the film.  For another, Edward G. Robinson, the film became a mirror in which he discovered who he was, the army veteran of Indochina, chased way by his father because he had lost the war.  He is the hero of the film; it is time for me to let him speak. (Rouch 1981b: 8).

After this initial voice-over Ganda states: 'Ladies and gentlemen, here is Treichville' (ibid.). Only after the voice-over ends might the spectator infer that the first voice heard had been that of the filmmaker Jean Rouch.  The transition recalls practices of ethnography in which a primary investigator - typically a white European male - draws on local informants to interpret words, gestures and actions whose meaning he presumably fails to understand.  Some spectators may recognise the first voice right away as that of Rouch, even though nothing identifies him by name until later in the film.  But since others may associate the unidentified voice with anonymous and omniscient narration, it is fair to ask in which mode Rouch means to speak.  Is the framing 'I' heard in the initial voice-over personalized and identifiable?  or is it abstracted within the conventions of filmed ethnography and travelogue? Does Rouch speak as a white French 'insider' collaborating on an equal basis - by 'becoming another' - with those whom he films?  Or does he speak instead as an outsider removed from his subjects?

    Even in the intermediate role of participant- observer, the identity of the 'I-sayer' in the opening sequence is ambiguous and is disclosed only in stages.  The ambiguity derives in part from technical constraints of the period that required the soundtrack to be added in post-production and in part from models of narration and discourse that warrant scrutiny.  As with many of Rouch's films of the period, Moi, un noir blurs received distinctions between fiction and documentary film.  Documentary can arguably be seen as a mode of fiction built on the basis of heterogeneous images and effects that often mobilise elements of the cinematic apparatus - point of view, field of depth editing and sound - to produce representational systems on par with the (so-called) fiction film (see Rancière 2001: 202-3).

    The arrest of the actor Petit Touré during the film shoot led to a three-month delay before he and Ganda were able to record their voice-overs while they viewed a rough cut of the film in an Abidjan radio studio.  Rouch described the interval as formative and crucial because it underscored the extent to which unforeseen aspects of real life are integrated within the filmmaking process:

  1. This imprisonment changed the tone of the film.  At first, it was somewhat like 'The Treichville Zazouman,' the initial title chosen, except that because of this interruption, the narrative became much more dramatic ... It should be said that the film was reconstructed only after the initial shooting because the need to rewind our little movie camera manually [meant that] hardly any single shot lasted more than 20 seconds.  As a result, the art of editing completely recreated continuity in a film narrative, an operation that was simultaneously a stimulus and a hindrance for the actors who were often unable to say all that they wanted to say because we had to move on to the following shot (in Piault 1996: 143). [6]

While Rouch recognises the extent to which the three-month delay and visual editing affected the final film, I want to look more closely at how the voice-overs spoken by Ganda produce what I have characterised above as the cinematic equivalent of free indirect discourse.

Who is speaking?

Three sequences disclose the scope and force of Ganda-Robinson's comments that are framed initially within conventions of filmed ethnography and travelogue. The first sequence (shots 304-29) occurs after Robinson and his friends spend an afternoon swimming on the Atlantic coast.  As Robinson sits across from Dorothy, he confesses his sadness: 'Dorothy Lamour, you see, I need a wife and - later on - children, too.  I, too, need to be happy like everyone else' (Rouch 1981b: 22). The next shot shows Robinson entering a boxing ring dressed in a striped robe on the back of which we see the words 'Edward Sugar Ray Robinson.' An accelerated sequence shows Robinson raising his hands in victory with sights and sounds of jubilation, until his voice-over brings the fantasy back to reality: 'This is what I'd like to be, champion of the world Ray Sugar [sic] Robinson. I ain't no boxer, it's only a dream and here's the real boxer' (Rouch 1981b: 24). [7] Robinson's words to Dorothy are a plea.  The two are betrothed in Niamey before Robinson leaves to join the French army.  By the time he returns, the betrothal has broken and Robinson's relations with his fiancée have devolved to a point where he fantasises about himself becoming a champion boxer whose prowess and celebrity will help him regain the affection of his erstwhile fiancée.  The second sequence (shots 620-8) occurs as Robinson wanders drunk at night through the city streets, just after passing a poster of Marlon Brando advertising a French version of The Wild One (1953).  As Dorothy Lamour is seen standing in a doorway, Robinson says in a voice-over:

  1. And Dorothy Lamour will be my wife, and I'll be an actor like Marlon Brando ... and Dorothy Lamour will wait for me in front of our door because the house could belong to me and I could be master of the house ... with Dorothy Lamour as my wife.  She will always wait for me and at night she will close the door.  We don't want anything to bother us, we want to be at ease ... in our very own house.  I have my Dorothy Lamour!  The radio is turned on, she speaks words of love to me, she will take off her dress because I like to see her breasts, she is thirsting for love; there on our bed, we do what is our business alone. (Rouch 1981b: 30)

In fact, Dorothy Lamour is a prostitute who spends the night with an Italian who picked her up the previous evening while she sat next to Robinson in the ironically named Bar de l'Espérance (Bar of Hope). Robinson bangs on her door the next morning and the Italian emerges, hurling insults that provoke a fight between the two men.  When Robinson loses this physical encounter he also loses the fantasy of Dorothy as his wife that he had linked to the virility and fame embodied in the boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson.

    The physical encounter with the Italian leads to a final sequence in which Robinson laments his decision to leave Niger: 'What the hell are we doing here in the Ivory Coast?  We really made a big mistake .  See, we are sleeping on the streets, in the market, on the sidewalks.  The others are happy!  Look how they live while for us there is nothing except prison and for three whole months at that!' (Rouch 1981b: 34).  This voice-over continues for four minutes over 35 shots.  Unlike earlier sequences that project idealised desire towards the future, the images accompanying this voice-over evoke the past of a lost innocence in Niger.  Curiously, this sequence added after the shoot to enhance the dramatic force of Robinson's disenchantment conveys a picturesque Africa - pastoral naked bodies, children with toothy grins - at odds with the realities of daily life in Treichville.  Where did this sequence come from?  Even if the sequence is intended as an ironic critique reverting to images seen in interwar colonial films such as Léon Poirier's La Corisière noire (Black Journey, 1925) is troubling and at odds with almost all other narrative elements of the film.

    Robinson is next seen walking with Petit Jules through deserted areas near the large lagoon in Abidjan.  Suddenly, he heaves a stone he has picked up, jumps forward, lies flat on the ground, gets up and jumps again, as though he were sprawling into a trench.  He repeats the gesture as a lengthy voice-over begins:

  1. I'm in a hell of a mess!  I have done everything in my life, everything.  You know, Petit Jules, I served in the war, the war in Indochina.  I killed the Vietminh with a submachine gun, a knife, a hand grenade.  And that's how you do it with a hand grenade, you throw it right away and you lie down flat on the ground ... It wasn't worth it at all!  Petit Jules.  I did everything!  Everything!  Everything!  But nothing worked for me.  Listen, old friend, I just don't know; me, I did everything that a man should do.  Everything!  But nothing has any importance ... For nothing, for nothing, old friend!  And just as I am walking alongside you ... I am dead ... a grenade explodes ... All this does nothing.  We are not happy.  Look at how happy these other people are.  (Rouch 1981b: 35-6)

This sequence culminates Robinson's account of his daily life in a Treichville still under French colonial rule.  He contrasts his life as a day labourer (bozori) with what he had done after leaving home ('I did everything! Everything!).  As he recounts the deaths he has seen, Robinson adopts the perspective of a French soldier by objectifying the enemy: "To kill a Vietminh, you raise your knife and wham!  You knock him to the ground' (ibid.). He also identifies positively with his soldier comrades: 'I've seen buddies with whom I'm drinking coffee, and right after drinking it, they die right there!  And all of this, what good is it?' (Rouch 1981b: 35).

    Robinson vents his frustration, but he also asserts a sense of accomplishment and courage that turns to resolve: 'Me, I fought in the name of France and I am brave.  I'm a man, but I have nothing: I'm poor, but nevertheless, I'm brave!' (Rouch 1981b: 36).  Robinson's account is personal; yet his references to French policies that made the occupied territories a prime source of recruiting soldiers are among aspects of the film that motivated authorities to cut twenty minutes of it before it could be shown. [8] Subjectivity in Moi, un noir builds on post-shoot voice-overs and visual editing overseen by Rouch.  The mixing of Rouch's voice with that of Ganda-Robinson generates the central story through the disjunction between Robinson's fantasies and the reality of his daily life.  Are Robinson's statements subject to censorship exercised in the form of visual and sound editing? Is censorship of one kind or another unavoidable?

Nearly a decade after Moi, un noir, the Senegalese writer and filmmaker Ousmane Sembène asked Rouch what he thought Europeans might do once Africans began making films on their own.  Rouch answered that being a European was both an advantage and a liability, because when placed in front of a culture that is not his own, the European saw things that those within the culture did not always see.  Sembène countered that especially in the realm of cinema one had to analyse as well as see.  so that instead of saying merely that a man whom one sees is walking, on needed to know where the man on screen was coming from and where he was going.  He added:

  1. There's a film of yours that I like, that I have defended, and that I will continue to defend.  It is Moi, un noir.  In principle, an African should have made it, but none of us at the time was in a position to do so.   I think that a follow-up to Moi, un noir is needed.  To continue - I think about it continually - the story of this boy who, after Indochina, no longer has a job and winds up in prison.  What happens to him following independence?  Would anything have changed for him?  I don't think so ... In the end, for me there are only two films on Africa that count: yours, Moi, un noir, and then there's Come Back Africa [1960], that you do not life.  And then a third that's somewhat special since I mean Les Statues meurent aussi [Statues Also Die, 1953]. (In Cervoni 1996: 105-6)

Sembène's words cut two ways.  For while he acknowledges what Rouch had tried to do in Moi, un noir, the anger that he directs towards ethnologists who study Africans 'like insects' neither detaches nor absolves Rouch from the damage caused by films from the United States and Europe that portray Africans negatively.  This damage is exactly what Deleuze describes as the colonisation of Africa by stories from the outside.  The fact that Rouch casts Moi, un noir as a break with conventions of documentary practices by involving the filmmaker more directly in the film does not preclude taking Sembène's anger as a measure of his advocacy of African films to be made by Africans.

An African made it

Ousmane Sembène's 1965 call for an African follow-up to Moi, un noir did not go unheeded.  Oumarou Ganda fist met Rouch in Abidjan a year or so before Rouch cast him as Edward G. Robinson.  Starting in 1966, Ganda made eight films of his own before his death in 1981, at the age of 45.  Among the eight films is a 45-minute feature, Cabascabo, released in 1968 and shown at the Cannes Film Festival the same year as part of the Semaine Internationale de la Critique.  Cabascabo (a word in Zarma dialect that translates as 'hard to cook') 'continued' Moi, un noir by portraying problems encountered by a young native of Niger who, much like Ganda, returns home after serving in Indochina in the French army. 

    Statements by Ganda during an interview in December 1980 underscore his ongoing ambivalence concerning the collaboration with Rouch on Moi, un noir:

  1. Personally I did not like this film very much for a number of reasons; first, at a certain point it all sounded false; in addition, I thought that the way my thoughts were shown should have been different, because in a way, I was co-director of this film, I brought my share to the film; from one day to the next, we were working together and then Rouch did the editing...

  2.     Rouch profited from my life experience; besides at first there was no question about making a film about a veteran of the war in Indochina; it was supposed to be a film about immigrants from Niger; it was supposed to be called 'Zazouman de Treichville', a film short, and we ended up with a feature-length film, Moi, un noir.  I tried in my first film to set things straight, to say almost the same things as I saw them with a lot more detail, and this is why I made Cabascabo to express what I was feeling ... because I did not have the means to do so earlier.  This is how things were, but in Moi, un noir, things are true ...

  3.     There are moments when Rouch exaggerated, for example when he stated in his commentary that my father could not stand the defeat in Indochina; it is exaggerated, my father knew nothing about it; it had nothing to do with him. (In Haffner 1996: 97-8)

Ganda's openness about the differences between Rouch's concerns and his own points to the singular ability of film practice to record from a specific point of view affected by the physical placement of the movie camera and by editing.  Rouch wanted to convey (what he took for) the reality of the lives of bozori such as Ganda.  But he could not do so except from a point of view that necessarily diverged from that of Ganda.  Relations of power and knowledge affecting Rouch's status as a 'free' white European male filming in an Africa under colonial rule also return us to the question raised by Deleuze at the start of this chapter concerning the extent to which Rouch succeeded in fleeing himself. 

    In retrospect, the denunciation of colonial society implicit throughout Moi, un noir had only limited impact on structures and institutions of colonial rue against which individuals such as Ganda were powerless, even when afforded with a public venue to screen his film throughout Europe and the West.  Rouch understood this bind.  In a notice published in January 1981 shortly after Ganda's death, he wrote:

  1. There was no word 'end' to the story of the man who dreamt of being simultaneously Edward G. and Sugar Ray Robinson, an actor or a boxer but who, by moving to the other side of the camera, became quite simply a filmmaker.  The 'to be followed' were eight films that today are classics in the history of film: Cabascabo [1969], Le Wazzou polygame [1971], Saïtine [1973].  Or even his last film, his last adventure, The Man in Exile, about a diplomat who, just before dying, recounts with marvel the exemplary legends of an Africa forever lost. (Rouch 1981a: 40)

Cabascabo responds to Sembène's call for an African continuation of Moi, un noir.  Yet Gand's account of the hard re-adaptation faced by a young native of Niger following French military service in Indochina soon yields to a critical portrait of daily life in rural Africa dominated by predatory friends and exploitative working conditions.  Once the small fortune Cabscabo brings back from Indochina is exhausted, he finds himself as much an outcast among his family and friends and neighbors as he was within the French army in Indochina.  But unlike Edward G. Robinson in Moi, un noir who leaves Niamey to seek a new life in Treichville, Cabascabo heads out in the film's last scene to work in the local fields because he realizes that he must remake himself among his peers  before deciding where (in Sembène's formulation) he is going and (Deleuze again) whom to become.

    A strident critique of Rouch's shared anthropology of the 1950s is implied in a passage written by Chris Marker several years before Moi, un noir, in conjuntion with his 1950-53 collaboration with Alain Resnais on Les Statues meurent aussi, a film commissioned by the journal Présence Africaine.   Characterising Europeans who justify their presence in Africa in the name of a civilising mission, Marker writes:

  1. We are the Martians of Africa.  We arrive from our planet with our ways of seeing, our white magic, our machines.  We will cure the black man of his illnesses, this is certain.  And he will catch ours, this is certain too.  Whether he is better or worse off in the end, his art will not survive.

What makes this statement different from those of many anti-colonialists is Marker's refusal to set himself apart from his critique of the damage inflicted by Europeans on Africans and their cultures

Like Marker and Resnais earlier in the decade, Rouch makes films critical of colonisation and colonial culture while neither asserting nor aspiring to the title of committed filmmaker (cinéaste engagé).  His decision to portray modern urban Africa in human terms makes Moi, un noir less militant than Les Statues meurent aussi and René Vautier's Afrique 50. [9]  Yet Ganda-Robinson's long monologue is arguably as forceful in denouncing French colonial policies as the direct critiques in the other two films.

    Rouch's African films of the 1950s do not call for the end of French colonial rule (see DiIorio 2005: 60).  Instead, his efforts to balance fieldwork, narrative and improvisation recast local informants as agents of a narrative over which - within limits imposed by technology and editing - they exercise an unprecedented degree of control.  Rouch often gave equipment to those whom he filmed so that they might make films of their own.  Unlike Jean-Paul Sartre who wrote Orphée noir a decade earlier as an advocate for - and thus in place of - others, Rouch's intentions were more in line with MIchel Foucault who, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, actively transferred the power of self-representation to those who had formerly been denied it.  In spite of the tensions to which I have pointed above, Moi, un noir promoted a cinematic practice for and by AFricans to which Rouch and Ganda were committed, each in his own way. 
    Rouch may never have succeeded in fleeing the West, but his 1958 experiment in voice-over prodded future African filmmakers such as
Sembène and Ganda to make films on their own terms.  In the context of late colonial Africa, Moi, un noir marked the necessary phase in a progression towards autonomy and self-representation whose relevance persists both in relation to Rouch himself - see, for example, Manthia Diawara's Rouch in Reverse (1995) - and in light of new African cinema since the 1960s.


  1. 1.The review was first published in Arts, 713 (11 March 1959).  (The sentence in French reads, 'un Francais libre qui pose librement un regard libre sur un monde libre.')  Godard's early enthusiasm for Moi, un noir centres on Rouch's ability to transform his collaborators into characters who played out their lives - bot real and idealised - in front of the camera.  Some twenty years later, this enthusiasm persists: 'Moi, un noir, it affected me a lot.  It's somewhat like [Robert] Flaherty: making fiction with them' (in Douin & Remond 1983: 179).  After A bout de souffle (Breathless) was released in 1959, filmmakers and critics such as Luc Moullet referred to Godard at the time as the 'Jean Rouch of contemporary France.' (See Nemer 2006: 19). Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are mine.

  2. 2.Nicknames illustrate the extent to which Moi, un noir portrays this transition as neither smooth nor definitive.  I thank same DiIorio for reminding me that they can also be a means of remaining anonymous in a labour market that exploits those whose transitional status often forces them to work illegally and for minimal pay.

  3. 3.Elsewhere Sadoul inadvertently confuses the characters of Lemmy Caution and Edward G. Robinson (see Sadoul 1962: 134).

  4. 4.My remarks on voice-over do not extend to what Deleuze, building on writings by Jean Mitry and Pier Paolo Pasolini, explores as free indirect images.  See Schwartz 2005.

  5. 5.Six years later, Robinson was the world welterweight champion. AFter moving to middleweight, he held the world title five times between 1951 and 1969.  In a career of 200 fights, Robinson earned 109 KOs, and finished with a record of 175-19-6 with two no-decisions.  Muhammad Ali called him 'the king, the master, my idol'. Dorothy Lamour (1914-96) played in more than fifty feature films.  SHe is best remembered as the sarong-clad co-star of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in seven Road to... movies (including Road to Morocco (1942) and Road to Rio (1947)) made between 1949 and 1962.

  6. 6.This issue is an updated reprint of CinémAction, 17 (1982), titled 'Jean Rouch, un griot gaulois'.  (the earlier issue carries the imprint of the publishing house, L'Harmattan.)

  7. 7.A brief clip of the real Sugar Ray Robinson in the ring discloses the irreality of Ganda-Robinson's fantasy.  It also recalls footage of black athletes in the final ten-minute section of Alain Resnais and Chris Marker's film, Les Statues muerent aussi (Statues Also Die, 1953) that government officials refused to authorise for public distribution until 1965.

  8. 8.Louis Faidherbe, governor general of French WEst Africa, instituted the practice of training Africans to serve French military units in sub-Saharan Africa in 1857 because he realised that they could be effective under the conditions of climate and health to which French troops were ill-adapted.  Over the next century, thousands of Africans were drafted; some volunteered and others were bought from slave traders.  In August 1944, Africans made up  more than half of the French troops who landed in southern France under the leadership of General Philippe Leclerc.

  9. 9.See Vautier 1998: 29-47 and 2001.


Cervoni, A. (1996) 'Une Confrontation historique en 1965 entre Jean Rouch et Sembène Ousmane:    

    "Tu nous regardes comme des insectes"', CinémAction, 81, 104-6.

Deleuze, G. (1985) Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. 

    Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

DiIorio, S. (2005) 'Jean Rouch: the anthropologist as auteur', Film Comment, 41, 3, May-June, 58-63.

Dine, P. (1994) Images of the Algerian war: French Fiction and Film, 1954-1962. Oxford: Oxford

    University Press.

Douin, J.-L. and A. Remond (eds) (1983) La Nouvelle Vague 25 ans après. Paris, Cerf.

Gauthier, G. (2002) 'Jean Rouch, gourou nouvelle vague,' CinémAction, 104, 70-5.

Godard, J.-L. (1998 [1959]) 'Etonnant, Jean Rouch, Moi, un noir', in Jean-Luc Godard par Jean-Luc

    Godard, vol. 1 (1950-1984). Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma, 177-8.

Haffner, P. (1996) 'Les Avis de cinq cineastes d'Afrique noire: entretiens avec Pierre Haffner'

    CinémAction, 81, 89-103.

Marker, C. (1961) 'Les Statues meurent aussi', in Commentaries, vol. 1, Paris: Seuil, 8-25.

Nemer, F. (2006) Godard (le cinema). Paris: Gallimard

Piault, C. (1996) 'Parole dominée, parole dominante...', CinémAction, 81, 140-7.

Rancière, J. (2001) 'La fiction documentaire: Marker et la fiction de mémoire', in La Fable

    Cinématographique.  Paris: Seuil, 201-16.

Rouch, J. (1981a) 'Hommage a Oumarou Ganda', L'Avant-Scéne Cinéma, 265, 40.

------. (1981b) 'Moi, un noir', L'Avant-Scéne Cinéma, 265, 7-36.

Sadoul, G. (1962) Le Cinéma Francais, 1890-1962.  Paris: Flammarion.

-----. (1979) 'Du folklore à l'ethnographie moderne: La chasse au lion à l'arc de Jean Rouch', in B.

    Eisenschitz (ed.) Chroniwues du cinema francais, vol. 1, 1939-1967. Paris: Union Génerale d'Editions,


Schwartz, L.-G. (2005) 'Typewriter: free indirect discourse in Delueze's Cinemal', Sub-stance, 108, 34,

    3, 107-35.

Vautier, R. (1998) Caméra citoyenne: mémoires. Rennes: Apogée

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Wilder, G. (2005) The French Imperial Nation-state: Négritude and the Colonial Humanism Between the Two World Wars. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

This chapter from Building Bridges: The Cinema of Jean Rouch (London: Wallflower Press, 2007) has been reproduced with permission from the author, Dr. Steven Ungar and the book's editor, Joram Ten Brink. For more information and/or to order a copy of this collection, please visit Wallflower's online catalog here.